How does the Ancient Greek beliefs of religion and death differ with the
view of other cultural groups? Death, the way it is represented in Homer’s book,
The Odyssey, is always caused by human error. Whether their death was caused by
greed, selfishness, or just being curious, many people died in The Odyssey.
Still, the question of what happens after we die remains. Many religions have
different beliefs of religious ideas from the Ancient Greeks. Afterlife, is a
belief where the comparisons among religions become extremely close. The Greek
beliefs of gods and death are different from the modern day beliefs of other
religions such as Judaism and Ancient Egyptian beliefs.
For example, The Odyssey begins with a scene containing a conversation
among the gods. The goddess Athena, goddess of war and wisdom, is discussing
the matter of Odysseus with Zeus, the head god and god of sky (Homer 10). Of
course these are not the only Greek gods and goddesses. Other examples of Greek
gods and goddesses are Apollo, god of music, poetry, medicine, archery, and
young unmarried men and Hestes, goddess of the home. As you can see, the Greeks
believed in many gods unlike the people of the Jewish fate who believed in one
god. The Jewish god does not have an emblem that which it is represented by.
The belief is that the god is represented by everything. For example, members
of the Jewish religion believe god is everywhere, in everything, and represented
by everything they do. Another example of the religious differences is how
Ancient Egyptians believed in idol gods which are gods represented in statues.
Ancient Greek beliefs are different from those of other societies because of
differences between how gods are represented in Judaism and Ancient Egyptian
Equally important are the Ancient Greek views of death. Death caused by
human error is widespread throughout the book. Human error is encountered in
each one of Odysseus’s adventures on his return home. The Kyklopes represented
the greediness, selfishness, and uncilvilization of Odysseus’s men. Odysseus
fell asleep and his men unleashed a bag of bad winds, throwing them off path
(Homer 315). Skylla and Kharybdis was a representation of death from nature
when Odysseus’s men stopped rowing and six of the men were killed. The Seirenes,
with their beautiful singing voices represent suicide death. Hades, probably
the most down to Earth adventure, represents time and fate. Many religions use
time and fate as representations of why people die. Ancient Egyptians believed
that when a person died, they were hand picked by god and therefore sacrificed.
Modern day occurrences make this seem more and more untrue. Time and fate do not
demonstrate the reasons of death. For example, the act of random violence is
becoming more of a regular practice of unjustified death, unlike the Ancient
Greek ways which always had a reason for death. Therefore, this is another
difference between Ancient Greek beliefs and current religions and beliefs.
Next, what happens after death is a question that is yet to be answered.
The people of Ancient Greece believe of the Underworld. Hades is the god of the
Underworld and has a special throne and place on the council chamber. It is
believed that Hades leads those through the Underworld and will guide them to
their designated place (Evslin 276). It is believed that each of the ways that
a person could be guided is similar to the Christian beliefs of heaven and hell
and the beliefs of the Ancient Egyptians of weighing the soul for good and bad
karma (McDonald 356). The Jewish religion believes that the destined messiah
will appear in Israel. This is why many people wish to be buried in Israel, the
holy land of the Jewish people. It is believed the messiah will guide the
Jewish people through the afterlife and the closer you are buried to the messiah,
the closer you are to the front of the line. The Jewish religion teaches that
when the messiah appears, it will guide the souls to a heaven like or hell like
surroundings to live forever (Yedwab).
Finally, it is obvious that religions and beliefs differ, but still the
overall belief that souls determine their afterlife is apparent through many
religions. Each of the religions discussed have their own individual beliefs of
other topics such as religious scrolls and ways of teaching. In Judaism,
believing in more that one god would be considered unholy. Also, in Judaism,
separating the body to remove organs is considered wrong. In Ancient Egyptian
beliefs, all vital organs of the body were removed when the person was buried
and placed in jars and buried with them. In Ancient Greek beliefs, the body was
kept intact. In The Odyssey, it began with with a conversation among the gods,
but are the gods real? Was this just an excuse to have reasons why occurrences
happen and to explain ideas to people? Is that true for all religions?